Take a quick look at Apple’s many competitors. What do they have in common? They’re not afraid to sell junk. They’re not afraid to hold onto the past. Their focus on products is often more about price and a laundry list of features than the user experience.
Now, contrast that with Apple’s approach to the customer. The user experience is paramount; even if it means the customer must wait weeks or months for a new product. Even if an Apple customer is used to an older and friendlier product, Apple isn’t afraid to kick out the old and usher in the new.
Apples biggest fear seems to be what often ails the company’s many competitors. Stagnation.
A good example of ‘out with the old and in with the new’ is the original iMac back in 1998. No floppy disk. That advancement, of course, was countered with the notorious hockey puck mouse that Apple included with the iMac, but that’s a different issue.
More recently Apple announced and then shipped the new Photos app for the Mac. There’s much to like in Photos, but it’s still a simple app to store tens of thousands of digital photos, make then easy to enhance and share. Along the way, Apple didn’t hesitate to drop iPhoto and Aperture from the Mac App Store.
Out with the old, in with the new.
One reason that PC makers, smartphone and tablet makers have difficulty competing against Apple is that the company doesn’t stand still for long. But it does stand still for awhile at times, and has been kind enough to overlap new product technologies. Witness the new MacBook line (silver, space gray, gold, thinner, lighter, faster but more expensive than entry-level MacBook Air models) which exists alongside the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air.
Apple’s product line is much larger than most competitors, customers, or critics fully realize. Look at the variety of iPhones. iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, iPhone 5s and 5c. The iPad has an even larger line. Two models of iPad Air, three models of iPad mini. The Mac line is even more diverse; MacBook, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, iMac, iMac with Retina display, Mac Pro, Mac mini, each with a variety of options.
For all of Apple’s fear of stagnation and becoming like competitors of yesteryear, two things should be noted. First, Apple does stagnate (though one can argue that it’s more of a leapfrog stagnation). Two words: Apple TV. Sometimes Apple goes backwards. Two words: Mac mini (now with less power than previous models).
Second, Apple has done such a good job sucking the profits out of the PC, smartphone, and tablet industry segments, that competitors have become desperate to remain or become relevant. That means lower prices, and better products that more effectively compete with Apple’s product line.
Competing well against Apple in any product segment requires a competitor to adhere to specific basics. Stagnation is not allowed. Apple is a moving target. Build products that work as well as Apple’s products, but price them less. Build products that work far better than Apple’s products, and price them the same.
So far, not many company’s have been able to do either one, and while Apple may appear to stagnate on a product or two, or on certain features and functions, the company continues to raise the bar (check out the Force Touch trackpad on the new MacBook or 13-inch MacBook Pro, and then imagine an iPhone or iPad with similar full-screen technology).